Spiritual awakening and other major spiritual shifts can leave us at a total loss for words.
And why would we have words for these shifts?
Our words and vocabulary are built around what we know, and so if we are taken into a brand new experience and/or set of experiences, then we very rarely know how to describe what is going on. It’s to be expected.
What comes next is a time of finding those words and learning how to understand what has arisen. The more powerful the spiritual experience, the more time it may take to settle down and understand. Additionally, if someone awakens, a lot of energy moves and creates a lot of different experiences for a long time (typically in the duration of years). Dealing with this ongoing newness and sense of discovery can be overwhelming, but hopefully, this blog post can help you put words to what you’ve experienced.
For the sake of this post, I’m assuming that I’m talking to someone who has had an awakening as I describe it. The short version is that a true awakening moves independently of your will, and it moves intelligently in opening you and freeing you of your ego. For a longer definition, you can read the below blog post:
The period during and initially after the first experiences of awakening are not times that you generally can express very well. These are times of being with the experience and allowing things to settle. This settling period is crucial, and while awakening often moves so much that settling is difficult, it is important to make space to do less in your everyday life to grapple with what you’re discovering.
Slowing Down to Catch Up
Fortunately, the mind tends to be fairly quick at understanding things. The heart, body, and subtle energy are usually slower (although energy can sometimes be very quick too–it depends on the density of the energy). So as someone gives themselves space to be with what has happened, they can start to think and find words. They begin to be able to describe the sensations they felt or are feeling. They find words for the emotions, and certain ideas and realizations float to the surface from all of this sensory information.
Additionally, sometimes realizations and revelations come up on their own just by slowing down and being still. The slowing down really is important. Rushing around through daily life gives you no time to process a major or ongoing spiritual shift of any kind. By slowing down, all the different aspects of you–mind, heart, body, and subtle energy–can process what has changed, and in processing, you begin to be able to talk about it.
Journaling to the Rescue
Any long-time reader of this blog knows that I highly recommend journaling, and this is an instance where it can be a truly amazing ally. Whether you have an online personal journal or apply pen to paper, what matters is that you have a private space to write things out. You need a space to be messy, unclear, and cluttered, and your journal is a perfect venue for that. This is a space that no one else needs to see, and it is an amazing practice ground to figure out your words so that you can communicate to others what is going on with you–which is a big concern for a lot of people after awakening. I can’t tell you how many times people ask me how they’ll explain this shift to a spouse, to their boss, to their families, to their friends, and to others.
Well, journal. Figure it out there. Then, you’ll find it much easier to tell people what happened because now you know how to tell yourself.
Learning from Others’ Awakened Experiences
This tip is tricky. It’s tricky because a lot of people call a lot of spiritual experiences “spiritual awakening.” That’s why I am so strict about my use of that term. I want you to be clear about what I am talking about, particularly if you are developing your vocabulary around a spiritual experience.
Spiritual openings are a lot more common than an awakening. Openings are moments where something is realized, experienced, or even shifted. If something shifts, then the person stays at that new level of understanding. However, many spiritual experiences don’t even evoke a shift. They, instead, evoke a desire for more experience as the person returns to their habitual way of living, thinking, and acting.
Take for example an experience of oneness with life. Many people have these experiences in all sorts of ways. It’s very powerful to feel like you are nobody, but are also everybody/everything. Then that opening ends, and the person returns to their normal state of understanding. Most people want to get that experience back, and that becomes the person’s spiritual quest. As you read other blogs and watch different user-made videos, you can expect to hear this type of experience a lot. It might even describe yours.
The main thing when you are figuring out your words and are learning about others’ experiences is to understand that there are a vast array of spiritual experiences. Pay attention to the duration. Is their experience still ongoing, or did it start and stop? How much control do they have over it? Pay attention to whether this person has developed a desire or fear of the experience. And pay attention to what they feel like they learned more than how it made them feel. Realizations that stick are interesting. Short-term feelings are an ego-trap because the ego loves emotional and sensory highs. It doesn’t care much for its own destruction and acknowledging the whole truth which includes beautiful and ugly realizations.
Listening to Spiritual Teachers
At no time in history have people had access to so many spiritual teachers. It’s truly a gift.
It’s also a problem.
It’s a problem because there are so many spiritual teachers all operating at very different levels of spiritual understanding. It means you’ll come across lots of contradictions that can leave you even more confused about your spiritual experience and the spiritual path as a whole.
In general, spiritual teachers are human beings just like you, and they have all had very different experiences. Furthermore, spiritual teachers can get stuck in certain traps. The trap of wanting to re-create enjoyable spiritual experiences for others is very common for many spiritual teachers. The problem is that all experiences are transitory. You can’t keep any experience. That attempt to keep reproducing an experience and giving it to people is a problem for both teacher and student. They both can get consumed by trying to create an experience and the experience itself, respectively, rather than letting go into presence.
In general, you’ll notice that different teachers have very different goals, but many aren’t very aware of this. Many people think they are helping you to dissolve the ego by giving (or trying to give) you blissful experiences. So, be prepared to wade into a sea of contradiction.
To help you, I recommend reading this blog post to understand the deeper goals that most seekers and teachers operate from. I am spiritual freedom teacher, by the way. That is the focal point of what I teach.
I also recommend focusing on only a few teachers and to read a lot of what they have to say to see how clear they are in their teaching.
Constructing Meaning Loosely
As you understand your experience/experiences, you’re going to be constructing meaning. Hold this lightly. Try not to turn your experiences into anything other than experiences. While you can learn a lot after awakening, the ego likes to re-create a new spiritual ego out of all of this. It will want to create definitions and meaning not to help you, but to enmesh you in a new level of illusion.
Instead of trying to redefine yourself, stick to the basics of what you’ve discovered. What do you feel like you are learning? What emotions feel like they’re purging? Keep things simple and short. The spiritual path is often best expressed through a directness that requires few words to get the point across without turning the spiritual path into an ideology or creating a convoluted new ego mask.
Talking to Friends and Family
In short, take time to settle. Pay attention to what you’ve learned and experienced. Journal about it. Don’t worry about getting it right. Listen critically to the experiences of others and spiritual teachers. See if you can find common themes across people that relate to your experience. Then journal some more, and now you’ll probably have enough words to talk to some close friends and loved ones.
Talking to those closest to you is an important next step. Hiding your experiences can cause all kinds of friction in a family or among friends, and while not all families and friends are open to these experiences, some are. By talking to them, you help yourself process the experience and/or experiences even more, and it helps them to understand what is moving through you. That can be essential for getting important support when you are having a powerful spiritual awakening. Awakening can completely re-structure a person, and so a spouse will need some idea why you no longer can work or look after the kids. Taking this time to figure out your words can help you to explain it all and to do it from a place of clarity of love.
Then, you can start applying some more of the strategies in the blog post below to make space for your spiritual transformation.